I Only Level Up With Likes?!

Found this on a whim, and what an afternoon adventure this becomes...

For those who might be seeing the blurb and thinking, "Okay, but what is it really about?" It is exactly as stated. MC gets thrust into an Isekai, and things will go terribly unless you - the person reading this right now - do something to interact with him. Might be a boon, might be a bust. No one knows until the votes are passed and the author writes the next chapter.

Frankly, this is one of the rare moments where we get to see a site like RR functioning at full strength. Because the actual direction of the story is so responsive to reader input and the mechanics are clearly outlined, this is a truly unique experience. At a bare minimum, put this on your follow list and see how the MC adapts for a week. There is nothing to lose but time spent in an engaging read.

Onto the review itself...

Style Score (5/5): This is definitely a lighter read that does not require a huge amount of thinking. It flows well from scene to scene, and it does not get too bogged down by exposition or heavy prose. The action is fun and engaging, and I was surprised by how quickly I got to the end of the first week.

Story Score (5/5): It is still very early in terms of story development, with the MC still getting his sea legs in a chaotic world, but there's been a few nods that imply a wider and larger conflict. Some might get turned off by the references to the meta throughout, but I personally find this is to be part of the charm. How readers engage in the real world is very much part of the story, and you can already see how this has played out in a bunch of different ways so far.

Grammar Score (5/5): Easiest one to dish out. No mistakes. At least that I can see. Which, given the amount of words written in such a short time is... Beyond impressive.

Character Score (5/5): MC seems like a somewhat generic protagonist on his face, but the added twist of the meta game is where this really takes off. Like that moment in The Truman Show where he realizes what is happening, Matt behaves in a way that is as logical as it is fourth-wall breaking... And I am so here for it. I think if I had to sum up what makes his character work so well for me, it was:

Him killing zombies while grinding out a quest, and realizing that if he only leveled through likes, he wouldn't just be able to kill them normally. He'd have to go out of his way to be entertaining for the folks reading out there, and immediately adjusts to try to murder them in the most brutal fashion possible in the hopes readers might throw him a follow.

Like I said, that is both a compelling and unique character, and one that fits in with the rest of the setting to the tee.


In sum, this is worth keeping on your radar.

But also, if you don't, there's a puppy out there that'll definitely get murdered. So... You aren't pro-puppy murder, are you?


Downrating This Should Be Illegal

Picked this up on a whim, and it is utterly brilliant. 10/10, highly recommended. Some of the best horror writing that you'll find on RR, and an overall enjoyable read. 

Style Score (5/5) - This is where the story becomes strongest. Because of the atmospheric descriptions and POV that mostly focuses on the core, what you're reading is a constant state of body horror, violence, and general malevolence, but with an added tinge of completely oblivious nobodies walking into a place where they really, really shouldn't be. The end result is that you're almost always on the edge of your seat like you're watching a monster movie thinking "Oh god... Please turn back while you still can." Followed by being rewarded when the characters don't do that. The prose is on point, which paints a deliciously disgusting image with every installment.

Story Score (5/5) - I don't think this reinvents the wheel in terms of setting or structure. If you've read a core or seen any fantasy setting, you'll understand everything that happens without being too shocked. I don't think it needs to be different either, though. The other elements are what props this main story up so that even if everything feels predictable or ominous, it fits together like pieces from a puzzle... Or severed body parts sewn back together into an Eldritch horror. ;p

One moment where I think this landed particularly well was when

The local viscount loses dozens of men to the swamp monster, and maybe a week or so later, a single mage comes in with a small band of troops, sets up shop in a temple overlooking the area, drops a magical storm, and leaves without investigating further. Because you're reading from the perspective of the swamp, you don't know what transpired outside, but this is exactly enough meat to let the mind race...

My immediate thought is that the viscount went to the nearest mage's college screaming about the fell evil growing nearby, and the local archmagus had to be like "You want us to send the entire Dol Guldor killsquad down to some backwater swamp... In this economy!? No, we're not going to waste our time figuring this out. We'll send a single tenured archmagus with some fantasy green berets, and he'll turn the entire area into magical Chernobyl. It'll probably kill whatever's hiding there, probably." 

That's my theory for what went down between scenes, and the fact I could reasonably infer this idea with the context cues available is peak storytelling.


Grammar Score (5/5) - No mistakes. Or none that my brain could see. 

Character Score (5/5) - Let's be real... Most dungeon core stories fall apart because the core is either too human or (shudders) tries to become human. This is the opposite. The core is so alien that you can't imagine it as anything else. It doesn't even seem evil by choice, only through a complete lack of understanding of the concept of "good." The core simply is, and that is all that is needed to drive it forward.

For a while, I started to think this might become a weakness over time, but as the story spreads out and you start seeing glimpses into the humans it affects, those character gaps get filled in all the most satisfying ways. The POV swaps are organic and set a contrast to the monstrosity you've been presented, which only further highlights how much it evolves into the literal heart of darkness without being forced.

Rock Falls, Everyone Dies

I picked this up on a whim after seeing its meteoric rise in the ranks, and boy, was this an adventure.

For me, the landslide pace of the plot is where this story thrives. Think of DBZ Super with a power scaling that'd make Gurren Lagen blush. It wasted no time while getting exponentially grander in scope.

That might sound stupid based off the synopsis, but that's only because it is stupid. That's the point. You're smacked in the face with a boulder of absurdity, again and again.

You don't have to get most of the memes to have fun. Take it from me, someone who bounces off 90%+ of the stories on this site before the first page is done. You only need a few pebbles of knowledge about the different popular genres to be in on the joke.

And best of all, it doesn't overstay its welcome. Like two rocks rolling past each other in the dead of night, you can get through the story and move on with your life.

This satire is as indomitable as granite. At a bare minimum, you should give it a peek before deciding if the rest of the author's catalog is worth your attention. They clearly know their stuff.

No rocks were harmed in the formation of the many puns within this review.


Alix & Figaro: Adventures in the Alien Wild

Overall Score: I had a strong suspicion that this would be getting a 5-star sweep within the first couple paragraphs. This feeling was only solidified over time. It is highly, highly enjoyable, and the arc structure makes it easy to consume. Do not skip if you enjoy this genre. The author knows what they're doing and you'll enjoy the ride.


Style Score: The author has a strong command on both pacing and balance. You're never bogged down with too much frivolous information, world building, or dialogue. Each chapter flows from one to the next at a fast pace, and it is hard to put down. 

Story Score: While it is difficult to say where the overarching story will go after one arc, within the confines of itself, it was masterfully executed. You might think that you have a general idea of where it is going a couple pages in, but that feeling gets dashed again and again by the chapter. It goes from compelling to completely bonkers and back again before you're halfway through, and I have not seen many (if any) other stories on RR that manage to accomplish so much in so few pages. This story is a rollercoaster and a half.

Grammar Score: I want to say I saw a typo or two somewhere, but I can't remember where. It was rare enough to be invisible, which is tantamount to perfection from the reader side of things.

Charscter Score: You expect the MC and her sidekick to be full of life and wit based off the synopsis alone. You can understand that their back-and-forths will be humorous and detailed. What you'd never expect is that you'll develop those same feelings for ancillary side characters who communicate via gestures because they don't share a language with the MC (ship my boi, Raygun)... Like, wut!? That is what makes this story so deserving of it's 5 star rating. Anyone who has entered the page so far has had more depth given in the first arc alone than I've seen in 200+ chapter litRPGs. It cannot be stressed enough. This author knows what they're doing.

Devour City

Slow to Start, But Worth the Wait

Overall Review: If there is anything to complain about with this story, it is that it has too many characters / moving parts in the beginning, and you're left wondering what is going on for a while before the pieces start clicking into place. Once it does, it gets amazing quite fast! I would highly recommend that anyone losing steam at the start gives this a thorough chance. You won't be disappointed.

Style Score: The first few chapters have you bouncing around different POVs, often observing some of the same events through different eyes. Because you're thrust into an otherworldly crisis with the MC, you're pretty lost for a while as you do some head-hopping, and it got to be a slog before the dots got connected. It is clear that the author has a strong plan for where he's going, but I don't think the start works as well in our heads as it does in his. None of this is to say that the style is bad. Indeed, between the banter of the characters at the start of the chapter and the way he pulls in different time-skips, it is brilliantly executed if you're willing to give it multiple passes. But that that needed to happen for me greatly slowed down the process, so some restructuring might be in order to give it that even 5-star flow.

Story Score: It is hard to describe how weird the story / setting is. Like, there is no way for me even hint at plot points without it sounding anywhere short of ridiculous. It is all completely out of left field, and therefore worth experiencing for yourself. I can already tell you that this is more interesting than 99% of the stories on here. The story alone is its biggest seller, and more than makes up for everything else.

Grammar Score: No complaints. If there are any mistakes, I didn't catch them.

Character Score: Sadly, another weak point, at least 10 chapters in. I don't think any of the characters are inherently weak based off presentation, I just think there are too many of them floating around this early to be able to latch onto. I know who the MC is and the main extradimensional entity POV, but that's about it. The rest of them all kinda blended together, and by the time I felt like I was getting an inkling on one of them, another three had been introduced that threw me off. Coupled with my stylistic grievances, and it made it hard to tell who was worth caring about, and why.

The Silver Curse

A Fun Adventure That Goes Down Easy

Full disclosure: I only made it 10 chapters in at the time of this review, but that felt like more than enough to form this opinion.

Overall Score: A solid read that is worth your time. The setting itself doesn't do anything to creative, but the characters are as vibrant as they are fun to see, and the pacing is spot on.

Style Score: this was one of the few places where I felt this story lost points. The setting / theme are lighthearted and easy going, but there are a lot of nuances and subtleties that you'll miss if you're reading casually. The end result is that the text is deceptively quite rich and heavy, though your brain will want you to breeze through. While each component individually is 5 star caliber, they do not blend great together.

Story Score: While the setting and overarching plot (at least to start) are not far from the norm, the nuts and bolts of the individual scenes are phenomenal. From random bouts of violence to the party of adventurers arrive, the richness of detail really stands out in an otherwise oversaturated genre.

Grammar Score: Very few mistakes in terms of words or tenses. Almost invisible if you're reading at a healthy pace. Where there were some errors was more in the clunkiness of some sentences, specifically when a play on words was intended that didn't quite hit the ear right. That said, these instances were few and far in between.

Character Score: Easy five stars. The main character, Rasp, is here to have a good time, and I am here for him. Between the quick witticisms and impulsive decision making, you'll find your eyes glued to the screen just to see what hijinx he'll get up to next. The same applies for just about everyone else. There's a lot of richness and life to the characters, the kind that is reminiscent of a Pixar film in max color saturation.

Definitely worth the read.

Into the Beyond - Part 1: Fated

Overall Review: This is a masterclass work that deserves to be boosted, especially in the context of this site. There was not much to complain about by the stopping point that I reached. If you happen to hit this story around Halloween and want to read a solid horror novel, then look no further.

Style Score: The pacing, prose, and stylistic choices are what makes this so strong. No parts are a struggle to get through, and the chapters are short and sweet. This cannot be underscored enough. The author knows what's he's doing.

Story Score: It might be a little presumptive to apply a value this early in, but I do think it is worth pointing out how solid the premise is. Ordinary small town has an encounter with extraordinary creature, and it does not go well. What bits that have been revealed have all been compelling, and there's enough meat fed in to keep wanting to come back for more. Should the plot take a turn later, I'll adjust accordingly, but at this point, it is really good.

Grammar Score: Nothing stood out worth mentioning. This has been revised and edited more than once, and it shows.

Character Score: Here was where I lost some points. Because the setting is an ordinary small town, all the characters are also... Completely ordinary. It felt like generic boy deals with generic bully while fawning over generic hot girl, and I had no investment for him. In the context of the greater story, they all fit like nice little pieces, but it all felt... Too safe? Like there were plenty of opportunities to flesh out our MC to be deeper, but he's so pitifully normal, and it comes off as shallow at times. That said, Mr. Gray is so deliciously ominous, all the way down to the tenses he'll use when he speaks. He is very well constructed. Like the story, I can see this changing over time as the characters evolve, but for now, this was my take.

Etherious- A LitRPG Story

A Great Read With Only a Few Caveats

Full disclosure: I only made it to the 9th chapter before writing this review, so my knowledge is limited to the first 100ish pages. From what I understand, this was done after a rewrite.

Style Score: The way that the narration flows is really solid. The prose logically matches the characters with whomever it follows, and each chapter ends with a nice cliffhanger that has you begging for more. If I have but one grievance, it is that the narrator follows the MC for the majority of the start, and the MC is established as a hyper-intelligent student with an encyclopedic mental database that would make most Sherlock Holmes blush. This causes the narrator to explain his decision making... In depth. At a certain point, I just found that I could skip 2-3 sentences at a time without missing out. Some of the internalization really drags on. Not enough to detract from the rest of the strengths substantially, but still enough to be noteworthy.

Story Score: The story is great. The system is deep and meaningful, and the adventure happens at a fast pace. One thing that is particularly nice is that the MC isn't just living a happy life until -the system came-. He is broken, beaten, and at the end of his rope, and having the world tossed upside down gives him the chance to build himself back up. The theme is redemption, and you feel it every step of the way. If I had any complaints here, it was that I felt like there were missed opportunities to explore these dimensions deeper. This might happen later, so do keep that in mind.

Grammar Score: Easy 5 stars. The author clearly spent a lot of time giving his story scrutiny, and it shows.

Character Score: I'll preface my grievance here by pointing out that this is a personal pet peeve. As said before, the MC is established as incredibly intelligent, and this is done by employing the device where he is presented with mere scraps of information and is able to logically deduce the correct answers at lightning fast speed... And I just am not convinced by that literary mechanism. That he is able to unravel much of the system within moments of being thrust inside makes him appear artificial and unrelatable to me. A little disorientation goes a long way, and there's nothing wrong with just going "I have no idea what's going on, but my stomach hurts and everything is bonkers." It's a real immersion breaker though when he picks the one right answer out of an infinite hat of possibilities, and that happens a lot. That said, I know that other fans of this genre could look at the same set of events and just be happy that their time wasn't wasted with 10 chapters of "bUt WhY dO I SeE iN cOmPuTeR!!1!1??1!?" So it really is a trade-off.

Overall Score: this is definitely worth reading if you enjoy litRPGs. The story is solid. The pacing is good. The system is well thought out and interesting. And the writing quality is really on point. What few negatives there are get quickly outshine by the higher qualities.

Waiting to Die [Modern Day LitRPG]

Overall Score: So I should start by saying that I really, really wanted to give this a full five stars. The setting is fresh, the system is rich and interesting, and the MC is adorably crass. Why the half-star dings then? Because for all the positives, there are a lot of nagging isses that undercut them. This is not to say anything here is bad. Indeed, if you're a fan of litRPGs and would like to see it happen in the modern world instead of Generic Fantasyland, then this story is for you. It is clear from the start that the author has grand plans for where this is going, so this looks like a solid (if not slower) adventure.

Style Score: The chapters all progress at a consistent clip that lets you see more of the world in a drip-by-drip fashion. You're never overwhelmed, and you aren't left totally in the dark either. There is a healthy mix between dialogue and action that keeps the pacing constant. But the downside is that constant speed is on the slower side, and in the end, I felt like every chapter dragged just a little too long. Never enough for me to abandon it altogether, but enough to feel like I could skip some moments without missing anything.

Story Score: I'll avoid going into too much details because -spoilers- but the slow pacing has a large payout when the action ramps up, and this merges well with a system that is as original as it is logical. The narration has a unique tone of voice that grows in you real quick, and it is that style that makes this easier to read the further in you go. The downside though? For me, the plot points felt too deus ex machina. i.e. "I need information" -> "oh look, someone happened to show up to give me information". What could have been difficult was made easy, while what was easy got dragged out. However, part of this is just preference in story structure . If you're reading just to have fun, then fun you shall have ;p.

Grammar Score: it's worth noting that the grammar is not super great. There are plenty of fragmented sentences. Starts halfway through like this. Can be tough to read at first. It is worth pointing out though that this is intentional, and a large part of what makes the style / MC so authentic. Once you get used to this flow and realize it is his story with his words, any complaints you might harbor go out the window. It is a flawless act... Except for those semi-rare moments where the wrong word was used or a tense is misplaced. It isn't often, but it happens enough to be notable.

Character Score: I cannot personally stress enough how much I love the MC, Mad Dog Mat. He is too good to be a villain and too aimless to be an anti-hero. The closest I can come to describing him is Ash from Evil Dead (and there is a nod to this at one point), but I don't think putting him in any box does him justice, so I'll just use one of his recurring lines to describe his worldview for me: "fuck 'em all." A total knock out of the park. Unfortunately... There are all these other characters that feel like they're just "kinda there". I'd love to care about a full cast, but it really seems like it is the MC's show that they're extras in, and I'm hoping that will change down the line.

So in sum... Yes, it is good. Yes, it is fun. Yes, I liked it. But it is still exactly half a star away from being pure gold in its current state.